Volunteer firefighter safe and sound following injury during Lakeland cleanup

Photo courtesy of Lakeland and District Fire Department. A fallen tree sits on top of a truck following an early Saturday morning storm at Murray Point Campground, located northwest of the Village of Christopher Lake.

A volunteer firefighter with the Lakeland and District Fire Department is expected to make a full recovery after a serious injury with a chainsaw on Saturday morning.

The department spent nine hours clearing debris from roads and campsites, mostly at the Murray Point Campground near Emma Lake, following a powerful storm that whipped through the area at around 12:30 a.m. on Saturday.

On Sunday, the department reported that one member was “seriously injured by chainsaw,” but is in good health following successful surgery on his left hand.

“They repaired a partially cut tendon and stitched him back up and he was home that afternoon from Saskatoon,” Lakeland fire chief Chris McShannock said. “He’s got full mobility and he’ll make a full recovery.”

The department said the incident was accidental, and that the firefighter was wearing proper protection prior to the incident. However, the management group will still conduct a review to prevent future incidents.

The injury was the only serious one reported as Lakeland residents spent most of their weekend clearing roads and hauling away branches after the early Saturday morning deluge. The worst damage came in Murray Point, where one person was trapped inside a camper by a fallen tree and six others were trapped with minor injuries.

Volunteer firefighters, with assistance of conservation officers, RCMP officers and other emergency personnel, were able to clear all guests from the park within 40 minutes. The damage, however, is extensive.

McShannock said it’s the worst storm to hit the area since 2011.

“It was real slow going because a lot of the roads had hundreds of trees down and some of them were piled as high as eight to 10 feet in the air, so you were trying to make paths and get access, but we did clear the campground of all people,” he explained.

In addition to clogging up roads, downed trees also caused power to go out across the municipality. District of Lakeland public works staff was out clearing roads for SaskPower staff as early as 2:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Lakeland reeve Cheryl Bauer Hyde said things went dark almost immediately after the storm hit. Residents around Emma Lake and Christopher Lake received power back at around 7 p.m. on Saturday, with power being restored to the rest of the area at around 5 p.m. on Sunday. There were still a few homes without power as of Monday morning.

“All in all, we have lots of property damage, but nothing much in the way of personal injuries,” Bauer Hyde said following a Lakeland council meeting on Monday. “Whatever storm was projected to come through here on Saturday (night) didn’t, which was great. Our crews are out now. They’ll be clearing trees from the roads and picking up branches more thoroughly.”

In order to deal with the excessive number of downed trees and strewn branches, Lakeland has agreed to keep its landfill open seven days a week for the next three weeks. Typically it would be closed on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s.

Bauer Hyde said they’ll have to wait to see how many insurance claims get filed before they can put a dollar figure on the extent of the damage. She’s just happy the incident occurred during the summer instead of the winter, and also pleased with how local residents rallied together to get things back to normal.

“A lot of the people who live here are pretty resilient, and the seasonal folks are part of the community and they pitch right in as well,” she said.

“In the campgrounds, I think we heard stories of people helping people as well, so it’s pretty phenomenal.”